Heath Lambert – It has never, ever, in the history of the universe been more convenient to destroy your soul, to ruin your family , and to bring reproach on Jesus Christ and His church

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Heath Lambert – The Power of Purity

Romans 6:1-14

Dr. Heath Lambert, author of „Finally Free” at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

There’s all kinds of difficulties with sexual immorality in the church. Pornography is just one. But, I am convinced that it is the most significant in the church. And the reason I think that is because in the old days, if you wanted to commit adultery, you had to do it with someone who could tell on you. Pornography solves that problem. It makes it possible for you to commit adultery with a woman whose lips are as silent as the grave. With the onslaught of internet pornography, it’s possible for anybody that wants to, to run around with hundreds and thousands of women. „And nobody has to know” is the lie.

In the past, being vigilant to be pure, meant being vigilant against a physical woman. Today, the people in our churches have to be vigilant against a phantom. Al Cooper, a sociologist, he was commenting in the late 90’s about the problem of pornography, and he said, „The problem with internet pornography in particular is 3 things: (1) Affordability (2) Accesability (3) Anonimity

You can get it cheap and nobody has to know.” For someone who is trying to get away with sexual immorality, it’s a deadly combination. For somebody who likes drinking that kind of poison, the internet is so handy, it’s so tidy. And so deadly. It has never, ever, in the history of the universe been more convenient to destroy your soul, to ruin your family , and to bring reproach on Jesus Christ and His church. This is not an abstract problem. It’s not a problem with the people out there. This is your problem. (READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW THE VIDEO)

The Power of Purity – Romans 6:1-14 from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

I speak to you today with a great deal of urgency and I am aware that I speak to you today in a time of crisis. These are dangerous days in our culture, these are dangerous days in our church. The specific thing I want to talk about with regard to that danger today, right now is the danger that the church faces with the epidemic problem of pornography. Pornography is not the only problem that the church faces, it’s not even the only problem with sexual immorality that the church faces. There’s all kinds of difficulties with sexual immorality in the church. Pornography is just one. But, I am convinced that it is the most significant in the church. And the reason I think that is because in the old days, if you wanted to commit adultery, you had to do it with someone who could tell on you. Pornography solves that problem. It makes it possible for you to commit adultery with a woman whose lips are as silent as the grave. With the onslaught of internet pornography, it’s possible for anybody that wants to, to run around with hundreds and thousands of women. „And nobody has to know” is the lie.

In the past, being vigilant to be pure, meant being vigilant against a physical woman. Today, the people in our churches have to be vigilant against a phantom. Al Cooper, a sociologist, he was commenting in the late 90’s about the problem of pornography, and he said, „The problem with internet pornography in particular is 3 things:

  1. Affordability
  2. Accesability
  3. Anonimity

You can get it cheap and nobody has to know.” For someone who is trying to get away with sexual immorality, it’s a deadly combination. For somebody who likes drinking that kind of poison, the internet is so handy, it’s so tidy. And so deadly. It has never, ever, in the history of the universe been more convenient to destroy your soul, to ruin your family , and to bring reproach on Jesus Christ and His church. This is not an abstract problem. It’s not a problem with the people out there. This is your problem.

At the risk of making this a little too uncomfortable, I know that there are people in this room who are struggling with pornography. It is absolutely impossible that this room is clear of people who don’t have an issue here. I don’t know who, I don’t want to make you suspicious, and I don’t want you creeped out looking at the person next to you. The goal is not suspicion, but, the goal is vigilance. And if we’re going to have to be vigilant, we’re gonna have to face facts. So, I want to speak, not about porn in general, not about culture in general. I want to speak to YOU. If you’re here, I take it that God wants you to be here and this is something God would have you hear. And so, I want to speak specifically to men. It’s not because there aren’t women in the room. It’s not that women do not struggle with porn, because they most certainly do. But, I want to speak to the men in the room who struggle with pornography, because God has raised you up to be leaders in your home. God has raised you up to be leaders in your church. And here’s the hard and fast reality.

If our homes and our churches are to be pure, then they’re going to be led by men who are pure. And if they are not, then they won’t be. And I’m so concerned when I pray for you. And I pray for you all the time. I don’t even know most of you, but when I pray for you, as I do all of the time, I am praying that you will stop doing what you are doing, if you’re in here and you’ve got a problem with porn. And here’s what you’re doing: Every time you do it, you sip, sip, sip on poison and you are storing consequences. Maybe nobody knows right now. But they will. It is the nature of sin to ooze out of the boundaries that we create for it. My concern for you is: You’re here because you wanna be a Godly man. You wanna be a Godly husband, you wanna be a Godly father, you wanna be a Godly minister of Jesus in the church. And what you’re doing is destroying all of it. And you don’t even see it yet.

Now, if you’re here, I take it you know it. I don’t need to persuade you that this is wrong. You know it’s wrong. You know you’re living a lie. You know you need to quit. But you just don’t know how. And what you need is not a lecture about how it’s wrong, but you need somebody to give you some resources to be different. And this is what it’s about. This is me, talking to you, trying to give you some resources, because if we tell you, if anybody says, „Be pure. It’s a pornographic culture and you need to get pure!” Good luck with that. The reality is that being pure requires power. You have to have resources and energy if you are to be vigilant against the pornographic onslaught in which we are living. And, Romans 6 is about that power. And this is what the apostle Paul says (8:00):

Romans 6:1-14

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of uswho have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We wereburied therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, butpresent yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Here’s what Romans 6 is about. When you read commentators and you listen to preachers talk about Romans 5 and Romans 6, they regularly highlight the flow that exists between those 2 chapters. Though, pay attention, especially to Romans 5:20-21 – Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And what commentators regularly do, rightly, is they show how the connection between Romans 5 and Romans 6 does not lead to a lawless Gospel.

The hypothetical argument that the apostle Paul responds to is, „Ok, if I want grace, if I need grace, I can’t outsin my need for it. Grace always superabounds above my sins. So, whenever I sin, I get more grace. And so, hey, if I wanna experience God’s grace, I’ve got it. I’ll just keep sinning. And then, I’ll get more grace. So the ticket to more grace is more sin.” And the apostle Paul says, „No. Grace does not lead to more sin.” The argument is that grace ought to lead to obedience. That’s the argument of Romans 5-6. But, here’s what I’m eager for you to see this afternoon. I am eager for you to see that this is not just about rhetoric. I’m eager for you to see that what Paul is doing is more than building a strong argument. He’s doing more than unfolding logical progression.

In Romans 6, the apostle Paul is communicating power, for you to overcome, by the grace of Jesus, the sin that is in your life. And today, I specifically wanna apply it to the power that you have from Jesus to live a pure life, in the midst of porn everywhere. So, 3 things about Romans 6 that communicate power for purity:

1. The facts of Romans 6

I want you to see the power for purity in the facts of Romans 6. This passage communicates powerful information for you. Paul wants to provide facts that will fuel your vigilance to be pure. And he gives 2 facts for us to consider in the first 10 verses of Romans 6.

  1. First fact: You are dead. The whole point of the first 10 verses is that you’re dead to sin and you cannot live in it anymore. And your baptism is your signification of your reality. He says, „How can we, who died to sin, still live in it? Do you not know that all of uswho have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We wereburied therefore with him by baptism into death, Baptism is the point of reference because Paul doesn’t know any unbaptized believers. And so, he used the baptism as the point of reference to talk about our conversion. And he says, „If you’ve been baptized, you’re a Christian, and you’re dead. The death that you’ve died, what is that? Seems like I’m alive. Seems like my heart is beating. What is the death that I’ve died? Well, verse 6 says the death is the death of the old self being crucified.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. The death that we died in Christ is the death of our old self. Romans 5 sets up 2 heads for the human race. There is Adam, as a head. And, there is Christ as a head. And all of humanity is under one of those 2 heads. For believers, Adam signifies the old self, who they were before they came to know Christ. And, Jesus signifies the new self, stands for the new person, who they have become in Christ. The old self is who we were in Adam, so old person is a redemptive historical category, it’s a redemptive historical designation and it refers to the fact that our representative head used to be Adam. And he’s no longer our head. Jesus Christ is our head. Our old self was crucified to make something happen, in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing (verse 6).(16:56) Notes from the first half hour.

9 Things You Should Know About Pornography & the Brain

via The Gospel Coalition

  1.  Sexually explicit material triggers mirror neurons in the male brain. These neurons, which are involved with the process for how to mimic a behavior, contain a motor system that correlates to the planning out of a behavior. In the case of pornography, this mirror neuron system triggers the arousal, which leads to sexual tension and a need for an outlet. „The unfortunate reality is that when he acts out (often by masturbating), this leads to hormonal and neurological consequences, which are designed to bind him to the object he is focusing on,” says Struthers. „In God’s plan, this would be his wife, but for many men it is an image on a screen. Pornography thus enslaves the viewer to an image, hijacking the biological response intended to bond a man to his wife and therefore inevitably loosening that bond.”
  2. In men, there are five primary chemicals involved in sexual arousal and response. The one that likely plays the most significant role in pornography addiction is dopamine. Dopamine plays a major role in the brain system that is responsible for reward-driven learning. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain, and a variety of addictive drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system.
  3. Why do men seek out a variety of new explicit sexual images rather than being satisfied with the same ones? The reason is attributed to the Coolidge effect, a phenomenon seen in mammalian species whereby males (and to a lesser extent females) exhibit renewed sexual interest if introduced to new receptive sexual partners, even after refusing sex from prior but still available sexual partners.
  4. Overstimulation of the reward circuitry—such as occurs with repeated dopamine spikes related to viewing pornography—creates desensitization.
  5. „Whenever the sequence of arousal and response is activated, it forms a neurological memory that will influence future processing and response to sexual cues. As this pathway becomes activated and traveled, it becomes a preferred route—a mental journey—that is regularly trod.
  6. What makes Internet porn unique? Wilson identifies a number of reasons, including: (1) Internet porn offers extreme novelty; (2) Unlike food and drugs, there are almost no physical limitations to Internet porn consumption; (3) With Internet porn one can escalate both with more novel „partners” and by viewing new and unusual genres; (4) Unlike drugs and food, Internet porn doesn’t eventually activate the brain’s natural aversion system; and (5) The age users start watching porn. A teen’s brain is at its peak of dopamine production and neuroplasticity, making it highly vulnerable to addiction and rewiring.
  7. Men’s exposure to sexually explicit material is correlated with social anxietydepression,low motivationerectile dysfunctionconcentration problems, and negative self-perceptions in terms of physical appearance and sexual functioning.
  8. This video: 
  9. This video:

Read the article in its entirety here – The Gospel Coalition

Internet Pornography, Sham Repentance and the Gospel

By Russell Moore via Church Leaders.com (Photo credit thegospelcoalition.org)

In light of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s actions on Internet pornography, here’s why I think we ought to care about digital porn.

There’s a situation in counseling I come across all too often: A couple will typically tell me first about how stressful their lives are. Maybe he’s lost his job. Perhaps she’s working two. Maybe their children are rowdy or the house is chaotic. But usually, if we talk long enough about their fracturing marriage, there is a sense that something else is afoot.

The couple will tell me about how their sex life is near extinction. The man, she’ll tell me, is an emotional wraith, dead to intimacy with his wife. The woman will be frustrated, with what seems to him to be a wild mixture of rage and humiliation. They just don’t know what’s wrong, but they know a Christian marriage isn’t supposed to feel like this.

It’s at this point that I interrupt the discussion, look at the man, and ask, “So how long has the porn been going on?”

The couple will look at each other, and then look at me, with a kind of fearful incredulity that communicates the question, “How do you know?”

For a few minutes, they seek to reorient themselves to this exposure, wondering, I suppose, if I’m an Old Testament prophet or a New Age psychic. But I’m not either. One doesn’t have to be to sense the spirit of this age.

In our time, pornography is the destroying angel of (especially male) Eros, and it’s time the church faced the horror of this truth.

A Perversion of the Good.

In one sense, the issue of pornography is not new at all. Human lust for covenant-breaking sexuality is rooted, Jesus tells us, not in anything external to us, but in our fallen passions (Matt. 5:27–28). Every generation of Christians has faced the pornography question, whether with Dionysian pagan art, or with Jazz Age fan-dancers or with airbrushed centerfolds.

But the situation is unique now.

Pornography is not now simply available. With the advent of Internet technology, with its near universal reach and its promise of secrecy, pornography has been weaponized.

In some sectors, especially of our young male populations, it is nearly universal. This universality is not, contrary to the propaganda of the pornographers themselves, a sign of its innocence, but of its power.

Like all sin, pornography is by definition a perversion of the good; in this case, of the mystery of the male and female together in a one-flesh union.

The urge toward this is strong indeed, precisely because our Creator, in manifold wisdom, decided that human creatures would not subdivide like amoeba, but that the male would need the female, and the female the male, for the race to survive.

Beyond that is an even greater mystery still. The Apostle Paul tells us that human sexuality is not arbitrary, nor is it merely natural. It is, he reveals, itself an icon of God’s ultimate purpose in the gospel. The one-flesh union is a sign of the union between Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:22–33).

If human sexuality is patterned after the very Alpha and Omega of the cosmos, no wonder it is so difficult to restrain. No wonder it seems so wild.

An Ecclesial Issue.

Pornography, by its very nature, leads to insatiability. One picture, stored in the memory, will never be enough to continue arousing a man.

God, after all, designed the man and the woman to be satisfied not with a single sex act, but with an ongoing appetite for each other, for the unitive and procreative union of flesh to flesh and soul to soul. One seeking the mystery outside of this covenantal union will never find what he is looking for.

He will never find an image naked enough to satisfy him.

Yes, pornography is an issue of public morality. We have spoken to this repeatedly. A culture that doesn’t safeguard the dignity of human sexuality is a culture on its way to nihilism.

Yes, pornography is an issue of social justice. After all, pornography, at least as we know it today, is rarely about mere “images.” Behind those images stand real persons, created in the image of God, who through some sad journey to a far country of despair have tumbled down to this.

We agree with those—often even secular feminists with whom we disagree on much—who say that a pornographic culture hurts women and children through the objectification of women, the trafficking of children and the commodification of sex.

But before pornography is a legal or cultural or moral issue, it is an ecclesial one.

Judgment must, as Scripture tells us, begin with the household of God (1 Pet. 4:17). The man who is sitting upstairs viewing pornography while his wife chauffeurs their children to soccer practice might well be a religionless, secular culture warrior. But he is just as likely to be one of our church members, maybe even one who reads Touchstone magazine.

To begin to address this crisis, we call on the church of Jesus Christ to take seriously what is at stake here.

Pornography is about more than biological impulses or cultural nihilism; it is about worship.

The Christian church, in all places and in all times and in all communions, has taught that we are not alone in the universe. One aspect of “mere Christianity” is that there are unseen spiritual beings afoot in the cosmos who seek to do us harm.

These powers understand that “the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). They understand that a disruption of the marital sexual bond defaces the embodied icon of Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:32).

They know that pornography, in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ, joins Christ, spiritually, to an electronic prostitute or, more likely, to a vast digital harem of electronic prostitutes (1 Cor. 6:16). And these accusing powers know that those who unrepentantly practice these things “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9–10).

Sham Repentance.

This means that our churches cannot simply rely on accountability groups and blocking software to combat this scourge. We must see this as darkly spiritual and, first and foremost, reclaim a Christian vision of human sexuality.

Internet pornography, after all, is downstream from a view of human sexuality that is self-focused and fruitless. In an era when sex is merely about achieving orgasm by any means necessary, we must reiterate what the Christian church has always taught: Sex is about the covenant union of one man with one woman, a union that is intended to bring about flourishing love, happiness and, yes, sensual pleasure.

But it is also intended to bring about new life.

An incarnational picture of sexuality, rooted in the mystery of the gospel, is the furthest thing possible from the utilitarian ugliness of pornography. Our first step must be to show why pornography leaves a person, and a culture, so numb and empty. Human sexuality is, as our colleague Robert George put it, more than “body parts rubbing against one another.”

Moreover, we must call for repentance in our own churches, and this will be more difficult than it sounds. Pornography brings with it a kind of sham repentance.

Immediately after an “episode” with pornography is “over,” the participant usually, especially at first, feels a kind of revulsion and self-loathing. An adulterer or a fornicator of the more traditional kind can at least rationalize that he is “in love.” Most people, though, don’t write poetry or romantic songs about this isolated, masturbatory compulsion. Even the pagans who find pornography pleasant and necessary seem to recognize that it is kind of pitiful.

Typically, for those who identify as Christians, a pornographic episode is followed by a resolve “never to do it again.” Often these (again, typically) men promise to seek out some sort of accountability and leave it behind.

But often this resolve is less about a convicted conscience than about a sated appetite.

Even Esau, belly full of red stew, wept for his lost birthright, but “found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears” (Heb. 12:17).

Without genuine repentance, the cycle of temptation will grind on.

The powers of this age will collaborate with the biological impulses to make it seem irresistible again. The pseudo-repentance will only keep the sin in hiding. This is devil work, and is among those things our Lord Jesus came to destroy (1 John 3:8).

Genuine Repentance.

Our churches must show what genuine repentance looks like. This does not mean setting up legalistic rules and regulations against the use of technology itself. This, the Apostle Paul tells us, is “of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Col. 2:23).

It does mean, however, that every point of temptation comes with a corresponding means of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). For some especially vulnerable members of our churches, this will mean giving up the use of home computers or of Internet technology altogether.

Such a suggestion seems absurd to many, as though we were suggesting that some Christians might do well to stop eating or sleeping. But human beings have lived thousands of years without computers and without the Internet.

Is our Lord Jesus right when he says it is better to cut off one’s hand or gouge out one’s eye rather than be condemned by our sin (Matt. 5:29)? How much less is it, then, to ask that one cut through a cable?

We must also empower women in our congregations to grapple as Christians with husbands enslaved to pornography.

We believe, and have taught emphatically, that wives should submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:23). But, in Scripture and in Christian teaching, all submission (except to the Lord directly) has limits.

The husband’s body, the Bible says, belongs to his wife (1 Cor. 7:4). She need not subject herself to being the physical outlet for her husband’s pornographically supplied fantasies. If both are members of a Christian church, and if he will not repent, we counsel the wife to follow our Lord’s steps (laid out in Matt. 18:15–20) to call a brother to repentance, up to and including church action.

The Gospel Answer.

Finally, and most importantly, we call on the church to counteract pornography with what the demonic powers fear most: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus, after all, walked with us, before us, into the testing of the appetites. His enemy and ours offered him a solitary masturbatory meal, to be wolfed down in the desert. Jesus turned back Satan’s offer, not because he did not hunger, but because he wanted a marriage supper, joined with his church “as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2).

The powers want any child of Adam, especially a brother or sister of the Lord Jesus, to cringe in hiding from accusation. Through the confession of sin, though, any conscience, including one darkened by pornography, can be cleansed.

By the blood of Christ, received in repentance and faith, no satanic indictment can stand, not even one that comes with an archived Internet history.

An adapted version of this article appeared originally in Touchstone.

Dr. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church

9 things you should know about pornography and the brain

computer manAn important article which you can read in its entirety at theGospelCoalition.org

Here are just the first 3 devastating facts out of the 9, plus theGospelCoalition.org also posts 2 videos for you to watch at the bottom of their article:

1. Sexually explicit material triggers mirror neurons in the male brain. These neurons, which are involved with the process for how to mimic a behavior, contain a motor system that correlates to the planning out of a behavior. In the case of pornography, this mirror neuron system triggers the arousal, which leads to sexual tension and a need for an outlet. „The unfortunate reality is that when he acts out (often by masturbating), this leads to hormonal and neurological consequences, which are designed to bind him to the object he is focusing on,” says Struthers. „In God’s plan, this would be his wife, but for many men it is an image on a screen. Pornography thus enslaves the viewer to an image, hijacking the biological response intended to bond a man to his wife and therefore inevitably loosening that bond.”

2. In men, there are five primary chemicals involved in sexual arousal and response. The one that likely plays the most significant role in pornography addiction is dopamine. Dopamine plays a major role in the brain system that is responsible for reward-driven learning. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain, and a variety of addictive drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system. Dopamine surges when a person is exposed to novel stimuli, particularly if it is sexual, or when a stimuli is more arousing than anticipated. Because erotic imagery triggers more dopamine than sex with a familiar partner, exposure to pornography leads to „arousal addiction” and teaches the brain to prefer the image and become less satisfied with real-life sexual partners.

3. Why do men seek out a variety of new explicit sexual images rather than being satisfied with the same ones? The reason is attributed to the Coolidge effect, a phenomenon seen in mammalian species whereby males (and to a lesser extent females) exhibit renewed sexual interest if introduced to new receptive sexual partners, even after refusing sex from prior but still available sexual partners. This neurological mechanism is one of the primary reasons for the abundance and addictiveness of Internet pornography.

 Read the article in its entirety here- theGospelCoalition.org

 

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